Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tashi delek, 1996-2011

Tashi delek, Dingo, Little Big Dog, Madame Grumplit passed away yesterday under an azalea bush. Her last days were not comfortable, but the vast majority of her 15 years on this planet were filled with adventure and enjoyment.
When I adopted Tashi from Taos Animal Shelter, I had been coming to the shelter for weeks, noticing this quiet, shy little dog with the satellite dish triangle ears. On this day, I asked where the little brown dog was and was told she was outside in her pen. It had just snowed the night before and the little brown dog was up on a mound of snow, barking at something in the distance. I came into her pen, kneeled down in the snow, and this little dog came around behind me and put her front paws up on my back in a playful hug.  
The shelter folk said that there was a connection between our spirits, and I do believe there was.
Those first years, she was a little spitfire, growling at everything that moved, getting into scraps everywhere we went. She was also a free spirit, and when we went on hikes I'd sometimes have to get back in the car and drive without her so she would run after me and tire out, before I could catch her and get her to go with me.  

Unfortunately, I didn't know anything about training and the popular "wisdom" at the time was all about dominance and alpha rolls. 

So she had to endure some of that, those first few years in New Mexico. I'm sure it did nothing but make her a more angry and a more rebellious young woman. Fortunately, by nature I am not very good at displays of "dominance" so Tashi never got much more than the light version.
I think Tashi enjoyed the four months we spent in New York, after Taos and before Santa Fe. 

She always loved her grandparents, and she enjoyed going to Riverside Park and running with the pack. Those were the days that she used to tear across a big field, up and down a huge hill, leading a racing team of dogs in a happy chase. Where did all her aggression go? She did just fine with those New York pups.  I would come home from the park with bruises on my calves from her nipping at me like I was one of her bovine charges.   

She did mellow out with time, or maybe it was the addition of Lamar that allowed her to relax and enjoy more. I will always remember that first night I brought Lamar home, how he was lying on the brick floor of my little studio in Santa Fe, and Tashi came right over and stood on him, just put her little front paw on his shoulder. 

They have been a happy couple ever since. 


By the time we moved to Portland, Tashi was more well-adjusted and Lamar was more the problem child.
Tashi did well in the Pacific Northwest, running around the National Forests, connecting with our hippie friends, watching the sunset over the beach, checking out hot springs.

What a wonderful road trip companion she was, sticking that head with those antenna ears out the window, snuffing in the fresh breeze, always eager to check out the next place.

Loved the water, loved the desert, loved the forest.  Swam in the ocean, swam in lakes and rivers.

Ran around those big parks in Portland and got her face all scratched up in blackberry bushes, loving every minute.

Adored the ocean, though unlike her friend Lamar, was smart enough not to drink it.

Accompanied her mom back and forth on road trips 

to Santa Fe and all the way back to New York before I left for the summer in Guatemala

After Portland, Tashi had no problem adjusting to city life while her mom went to graduate school. A couple years of good food, cuddling with Grandma and Grandpa, and hanging out with the NYC dogs again. Summers upstate with the grandparents, long days lying in the sun

Then Mom got a job in DC, so it was off to the "Berkeley of the East Coast"--Takoma Park, MD and the house that Florian and I have worked on over the years to make it the ideal place for dogs.

More hikes, camping trips in the Shenandoahs and on the beach and in Berkeley Springs and in Fredericksburg.

Daily walks to our favorite unofficially off-leash wooded parks and streams that make this area even better for dogs than all those places we lived in the wild west--who would have thought?

Those summer days by Aunt Nancy's pool. Tashi's been just more and more mellow, but still with that spunky grumpy spark she's always had.

Right up until her last few weeks, wagging and romping a bit with Lamar,  

wagging and wiggling when her people come home, sniffing, wagging, and touching noses when we returned from a walk with the other dogs, that she could no longer go on.

She's been so patient with all the foster dogs--grumping and growling at them when necessary, but wagging a lot too.

When we got the diagnosis that she was not long for this world back in January, my hope was that she would make it until the spring so she could enjoy some days of lying in the warm sun outside like she loved. Yesterday was the first really warm day of the year, the sun was out and the birds were singing and flowers are in bloom. How auspicious that she got to die on such a day.

When I found her, her face was at peace, more at peace than it had been her last few days. 

Tashi delek, may you and all the Buddhas light up the Pure Land with the magnificent radiance of auspiciousness! Go easy on the squirrel bodhisattvas! We miss you my piglet but we'll always be together.


  1. What a beautiful tribute. And a bit of an autobiography... Dogs make up so much of our lives...

  2. If you ncalled Tashi Dingo I can swear to you up and down you have a Carolina Dog as do I. I know that face anywhere. Carolina Dog = American Dingo http://a6.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/p480x480/582514_296159517126030_109375932471057_663706_1273359046_n.jpg see Carolina Dog wonderful rare primitive dog breed


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